Mac Engel

Garrett practices what he preaches, but players make him look like a hypocrite

Cowboys cornerback Nolan Carroll’s drunk driving arrest is a bad look for the franchise and head coach Jason Garrett’s “character” message.
Cowboys cornerback Nolan Carroll’s drunk driving arrest is a bad look for the franchise and head coach Jason Garrett’s “character” message. mfaulkner@star-telegram.com

FRISCO It would not be a Dallas Cowboys’ off-season if at least one of these merry band of “high character” guys got popped for something.

Perhaps in an effort to ingratiate himself with his new teammates and coaches, defensive back free agent signee Nolan Carroll got caught on a DWI over the weekend. Tentatively scheduled to be a starter, Carroll will likely be suspended for the first two games of the regular season for violating the NFL’s behavior policy.

“No explanation. No excuse you put yourself in that situation. Nolan has taken responsibility and is accountable to it,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Wednesday after his team’s organized team activities. “He’s going to learn from this situation and move forward.”

Hmmmm ... this sounds familiar.

Not to be outdone, defensive end David Irving — again, expected to be a starter — will miss the first four games of the season after he was busted for taking PEDs. Can’t fault the intention or effort; he was just trying to get better.

Since the the start of the 2014 season, the Cowboys have seen the following defensive players all suspended for violating various policies — defensive back Orlando Scandrick, linebacker Rolando McClain, defensive end Randy Gregory, defensive end Greg Hardy, defensive end Tank Lawrence, and now Carroll and Irving, too. Running back Joseph Randle likely narrowly avoided suspension because the Cowboys cut him during the ’15 season.

For a head coach who preaches character and intangibles, it’s a bad look and makes Garrett, by any definition, a hypocrite. Taken as a whole, all of these men make Garrett look like a sanctimonious blowhard who slickly delivers a PR-savvy statement but in the end looks like he’s covered in sleaze.

Taken individually, he’s not. Garrett is the guy fighting his daily diet; every day he preaches eating fruits and lean proteins while walking 10,000 steps a day combined with eight hours of sleep. Most days he does it.

In practice, he’s like all of us dieters who slip into a donut, a bender of Little Debbie peanut butter patties with a six-pack of Bud Lite on three hours of sleep because we binge-watched “House of Cards.”

Do not think he is indifferent about Carroll’s violation.

Garrett mentioned to the media on Wednesday how such an infraction “hits home.” He did not say it by name, but he’s referring to the tragic tale involving former Cowboys defensive tackle Josh Brent.

In December 2012, Brent was driving drunk when he lost control of his car; teammate Jerry Brown was Brent’s passenger who was killed in the accident.

Brent was later convicted of vehicular manslaughter and did some jail time. When he returned to the Cowboys in 2014 he was never the same. He appeared in one game and then was out of football.

Garrett’s rhetoric about Carroll may sound no different than the rest, but the incident involving Brent and Brown was a low point in his coaching career.

It doesn’t help his reputation when his boss simply believes that talent trumps all in the end. No amount of “covfefe” will convince Jerry differently.

Since he became the head coach, Garrett has stressed character, intelligence and professionalism among the new additions to the roster. Review all the team’s roster additions since he became the full-time head coach in 2011 and his batting average on following his own edict is decent.

He is also no different than any previous head coach under Jerry who had to sell a small part of his soul to land the NFL’s highest-profile job. Since Jimmy Johnson left, every one of his successors had to take on someone he didn’t want because his boss shoved it down his whistle.

Barry Switzer, Chan Gailey and Dave Campo were going to agree with whatever move Jerry wanted to make. The same for Wade Phillips.

Bill Parcells did not come to the Cowboys without power over personnel; so why else do you think Bill was given a raise shortly before the team signed noted locker room bomb Terrell Owens in 2006?

While McClain may have been a reluctant agreement, because Garrett was desperate for any difference-making defensive player, the head coach was not thrilled about Greg Hardy.

Garrett gave Hardy a chance and then wanted him gone as quickly as possible; he had given up on McClain the first time he was busted for violating the league’s substance abuse policy as a Cowboy back in ’15.

Garrett can come across like a humorless bore in public, but he takes professionalism seriously. He believes in what is becoming the widely accepted approach to player evaluation and acquisition.

Given the amount of money teams spend, an increasing number of franchises in every major sport stress character, professionalism and work ethic over raw ability.

It’s one of the reasons last season’s Chicago Cubs won their first World Series since 1908. Cubs general manager Theo Epstein believes in the traits.

The days of just taking the talented, wild-child kid who can party as well as he plays is no longer worth it, which is counter to Jerry’s intuition.

Garrett is a believer in it, and he tries to practice what he preaches.

The problem is some of his players, his own rhetoric, and his boss, often make him look like a hypocrite when in fact he’s a guy trying to do right by his diet.

Mac Engel: @macengelprof

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